Yup, that’s the truth, I don’t give a shot. At my office you either get “numb” or you get “anesthetized.” Yes, the dreaded numbing, like something else I can think of, “the reason for and the solution to all of life’s (dental) problems.”
People always want to know why, with all of the technological advances in the world, does getting numb still have to hurt you the same way it did 50 years ago? Well, the answer may not be one you want to hear, but it is simple, straight-forward, and pretty obvious: it works. It will take something pretty revolutionary to unseat something so dependable and predictable. There have been a few minor advancements in this area, but as far as transporting “novocaine” (which is actually lidocaine, marcaine, septocaine, mepivicaine, marcaine, or Michael Caine) nothing works better at getting what is in the carpule to the nerve of a tooth buried many millimeters beneath the gums.
I will admit that, at times, getting numb isn’t very pleasant. However, except for the top front four teeth and the bottom molars, it is minimally painful. For the top front four teeth, it’s uncomfortable because there are a lot of nerve endings in this area (as anyone who has ever been hit hard in the nose can relate to). The injection for the bottom molars isn’t much fun either, because the nerve directly innervating those teeth is deep in the bone and hard to reach. To anesthetize the lower molars you have to get the nerve numb before it buries itself deep in the bone. For anyone sadistic enough to want to know the details, the goal is to access the Inferior Alveolar Nerve before it enters the mandibular foramen, which is anywhere from 1 centimeter to 2 centimeters deep into the oral tissue.
The goal is to get close to the nerve because it is fishing line thin. If you happen to get “lucky” enough to directly hit the nerve, you will feel a sensation similar to a small static shock. But enough with the gory details.
There is a very large, very lucky segment of the population that I don’t mind getting numb at all. They don’t feel any pain or discomfort and getting numb doesn’t bother them one bit. Who am I talking about? KIDS! Yes, kids. Apparently if they haven’t heard lines at home such as “you better brush your teeth or you’re going to have to get a shot” or “glad it’s you getting a shot and not me” while literally sitting in the dental chair 15 seconds before getting them numb they do just fine. No, I am not joking, this happens a lot! Thanks Mom/Dad, guess who just unknowingly signed up for a new cavity at THEIR next appointment. Kids are easy. You put in the funny tasting topical jelly, comment on how weird it tastes, ask them if they are ticklish (some say yes, some say no; the answer doesn’t matter because they are distracted), tell them I am going to wiggle their cheek and to try not to laugh, inject in the anesthetic slow, EXACTLY the same way I do in adults. Most of the time they don’t even flinch and 30 seconds later they wonder why it feels funny. As long as their parents, siblings, or kids at school haven’t given them any preconceived notions, it is very easy.
So the biggest favor you can do for your kid is to get them to brush their teeth and don’t mention the worst of the four letter words: shot. It’s not that hard, as you can tell I haven’t mentioned it more than once or twice in this entire article, on purpose.